The NBA says that none of its three officials saw Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt call a timeout during the final seconds in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Blatt can be seen on video stepping onto the court and signaling for a timeout after Bulls guard Derrick Rose’s layup tied the score at 84 with 9.4 seconds left. Cavaliers assistant coach Tyronn Lue then grabbed Blatt to pull him off the court and prevent him from calling the timeout.
Cavaliers forward LeBron James won the game with a buzzer-beating jumper, tying the series at two. Game 5 is Tuesday in Cleveland.
"The referees knew that neither team had a timeout remaining so their focus was on the court. None of the three officials saw Coach Blatt signal for a timeout,” NBA executive vice president of referee operations Mike Bantom said, according to ESPN.com.
Cleveland used its last two timeouts with 18 seconds remaining. If officials would have seen Blatt signal a timeout after Rose’s shot, a technical foul would have been assessed and Chicago would have gotten the ball back after the technical free throw.
Blatt admitted after the game that he "almost blew it" by signaling for a timeout when his team had none left.
"Yeah, I almost blew it, to be honest with you," Blatt said. "I think we called two or three timeouts there on that sideline out. And good thing they caught it, my guys."
“That’s why we’re a unit, that’s why we’re a team,” James said. “Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes and we have to be able to cover for one another. T-Lue did that by covering for Blatt, that’s why I try to cover for my guys on the floor.”
- Scooby Axson